NETHERLANDS 3-0 (HT: 0-0) ENGLAND
For NED: Maartje Paumen 56 (PC), Ellen Hoog 65 (PC), Maartje Paumen 67 (PC)
It was the second time that Olympic champions the Netherlands had faced England this week at the Investec Challenge in South Africa and, following a classy display by the Dutch, the outcome remained the same. All three of the Netherlands goals came from penalty corners in the second half with captain Maartje Paumen leading the way as she scored twice to help her side seal a 3-0 victory over England.
The result means that the Netherlands remain unbeaten in the competition and have booked their place in the gold medal match tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile England will look for their first win of the tournament as they battle it out for bronze. Both sides will have to wait until South Africa have played Australia this afternoon to see who they will face in their respective matches.
Speaking after the game team leader Karen Brown said, “The Netherlands were the stronger side today and showed why they are Olympic champions, however we still managed to create opportunities and I thought we battled well to keep them at bay for a significant part of the game. We lost the final two goals because we were pushing hard to find the equaliser after going the goal down.”
Following a heavy downpour which left the main tournament pitch water-logged the decision was taken to play the game on the second pitch.
Despite the relative inexperience of the England squad out in South Africa the young side held their own for a good period of the first 35 minutes, matching the Netherlands, with some strong defensive play and attacking chances. Neither side however, was able to find a way through the others defence.
The 0-0 score line at half time was in no small part down to the efforts of Leicester’s Maddie Hinch in England’s goal who made some fantastic saves to keep her side on level terms. One of Hinch’s efforts was against the notorious Maartje Paumen whose penalty corner looked sure to get the Netherlands off the mark, but the Leicester keeper made a diving save and managed to get a pad to the ball to deflect it away from the top corner.
The Netherlands created the majority of chances in the opening period and pushed hard to find a way through, but Loughborough Students’ Laura Unsworth and Reading’s Sam Quek played a key role in England’s defence to keep the Dutch at bay.
The second half was played in very similar style to the first, however this time the Netherlands did manage to break through England’s defence. The three goals came within 11 minutes of each other and all in the same fashion, from penalty corners. On the 56th minute Paumen stepped up for another bite of the cherry and this time got what she was looking for as her shot found its way past Hinch in England’s goal to make it 1-0.
England were not willing to sit-back and take the 1-0 defeat and pushed forward looking for the equaliser, but as Brown highlighted after the game, “We knew that if we took the game to the Dutch we would leave ourselves open on the attack and on this occasion the tactics unfortunately didn’t go our way.” The Netherlands exploited England’s attacking play and forced two penalty corners in just three minutes. The outcome was two more goals for the Dutch, first from Ellen Hoog and then another for Paumen, to put the game beyond England’s reach at 3-0.
The result means that England will play in the bronze medal match tomorrow at 10:00 (GMT). They will have to wait for the result off the second semi-final between South Africa and Australia to see who they will play.
Team leader Karen Brown knows that tomorrow will be a tough challenge for the young side, “We know that physically we are not as strong as the other teams at this tournament and that has shown in the previous games where we have had two matches in two days. Whoever we face tomorrow will be tough, both mentally and physically, but I look forward to seeing how the girls respond in the 24 hours. They are hungry for that first victory and it would be justly deserved after their efforts this week.”
INVESTEC CHALLENGE FIXTURES & RESULTS
Wednesday 6 February – Rest Day
Thursday 7 February
18:00 local time – 16:00 GMT – Australia v England 3-1
20:00 local time – 18:00 GMT – South Africa v Netherlands: 1-3
Friday 8 February – Rest Day
Saturday 9 February
15:00 local time – 13:00 GMT – Semi Final 1: Netherlands v England – 3-0
17:00 local time – 15:00 GMT – Semi Final 2: Australia v South Africa
Sunday 10 February
12:00 local time – 10:00 GMT – Bronze medal match
14:00 local time – 12:00 GMT – Gold medal match